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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
Readers who love "A Time Remembered" by Patrick Smith will be delighted with The River Way Home." Mary Dawson's novel captures the pristine beauty of Florida before big development hit. Her lyrical prose and deep love for the environment infuse a wonderful story that engages from the opening sentence to the final conclusion. Historical photos add another layer of interest. "The River Way Home" is destined to be a favorite book that readers will visit many times. Memorable, entertaining and a must read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2013
I feel I must begin with a confession. Although I have never met Mary Dawson, my own mother was a young girl on the frontier in 1914, when the train first came through Cokeville Wyoming, and as a child my own grandmother told me true stories of encounters with real bank robbers. So the plot of The River Way home, which has been summarized so well already by other reviewers, had a special and personal meaning to me.

The book is very real. The prologue of the cowboy telling a story by the campfire took me back to other similar campfires of my youth, and I was "hooked". I also had visited southern Florida as a young teenager, and visited Lake Okeechobee, Clewiston, and untouched parts of the Everglades and the Keys, which magnified the vividness of the scenes as they rapidly unfolded.

The interplay and role reversals as the three young teenagers run into countless threats and challenges is amazing. Each takes leadership or gives critical insights based upon their individual cultural backgrounds, experience and training. The tremendous differences and diversity between the three of them repeatedly turn out to be their greatest strengths as they meet and overcome a myriad of challenges.

Part of the book's greatness is the subtle moral lessons it conveys without ever preaching. I would like to say that the book presents another interesting conflict arising out of our traditional cultural American idealization of bandits and desperadoes, but to even point this out makes me guilty of preaching.

Suffice it to say that the images of the storm, the swamps, the alligator attack, the night in the tree, the beautiful waterways, fishing trip, and even the train are the stuff that would make a great Disney movie.

I commend the book to anyone interested in real history coupled with valuable life lessons for today and the future.

Like another reviewer, I read this book on my Kindle but am buying print versions to share with my mother and grand kids.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2013
Book Description:


What is it? The Florida story of course.

"The River Way Home: The Adventures of the Cowboy, the Indian, and the Amazon Queen," is a nostalgic tale of pre-bulldozer Florida for young adults and adults who are young at heart.

A young Cracker who yearns to become a Florida cow hunter, a Seminole boy, and an educated African-American girl from the northeast are stranded in the magical and mysterious Florida Jungle between Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic Ocean in 1914. Through adventures involving alligators, outlaws, and tourists (What else?), they discover who they are and become the heroes of their own legends.

With a section of old photos and short historical essays at the end, "The River Way Home" is historical fiction full of action, humor, exotic creatures, and conflicts that remain contemporary today. It's a classic tale of friendship and coming-of-age that will take you back in time to your childhood favorites."

Florida's last frontier. The Florida Jungle 1914. For modern day 2013, it's hard to imagine well known tourist destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Kissimmee & Palm Beach as anything but. This very interesting and rare look at Florida frontier life in 1914 is completely
and utterly worlds apart different. The ecological, cultural and geographical history of South Florida at that time is simply fascinating.

Dawson writes of the frontier life in Florida as reminiscent of similar adventures to please either gender---like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and the Ingalls Family. Rich in geographical detail, this well written and educational adventure is a great summer read for middle grades and older.

The photos and descriptions at the end of the book on the places, faces and lives that inspired the story are very interesting and help paint an even more vivid picture of what life in the Florida jungle was like almost 100 years ago.

A very enjoyable adventure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
Rarely have I read a novel so compelling a read for young people and certain to captivate an older audience for the sheer love of adventure and American historical context. As a resident of Southeast Florida I was flung back into 1914 Florida and the intersection of three lives: An energetic 14 year old daughter of black educators, a Seminole youth and his friend, the son of a widowed fisherman. I learned much about my Florida after the turn of the century when Henry Flagler was bringing his railroad south and the motor car was proving itself capable of slogging America's rutted roads. Mary E. Dawson, Huck, Tom and Becky Thatcher are applauding. Here's hoping this Publishers Gold Seal winner keeps researching and telling us stories of dash and derring do of our land to remember. Ron Wiggins.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2013
Mary Dawson is a woman of many, politician and now published author. She writes a coming of age tale through the eyes of three almost teens in early 20th century rural Florida. Diversity has always been Florida's middle name and these kids come from different worlds...a Seminole Indian boy who reveres his history and the land where they live, a fisherman's son living rough on what they can catch in Lake Okeechobee who wants to be a cowboy, and a well educated, well read, African American gal they call Queenie who thinks she knows it all...until she is face to face with an alligator. The historical details have been well researched and the tale is well told. A must read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2013
Interesting, well written and educational. The book is about multi-racial relationship and their struggles in the jungle of old Florida.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2013
I purchased this novel in the hopes it would be appropriate for my 6th grade science class as a read-aloud this year. I was not disappointed! The characters are fun, the historical perspective is perfectly embedded in the tale, and the environmental message speaks to my desire to teach conservation in a subtle way that fosters enduring learning for my students. Ms. Dawson has given us a gift, and my students are already engaged in the telling of the tale after just two weeks!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2013
Queenie is a thirteen-year-old young African American lady, the daughter of a school teacher and her hard-working husband. The time is 1914, and slavery is much closer than a memory to this family. Her father is searching for a community where "coloreds," as they are known during this time in history, run their own affairs without "permission" from whites.

Queenie is a well-educated young woman who, when she meets Billy, who wants nothing more than to be a cow hunter (cowboy, Florida style), and his Seminole partner and best friend who later becomes known as The Chief.

While on a small boat, a huge storm drives them off-course into dangerous country. The story is about their adventures on their way home, which would have taken them no longer than a day had they been able to go directly home.

But they aren't, and the ways they use to survive will touch you, make you laugh, and keep you in suspense, because at times it appears they will not make it at all.

This is a delightful book recommended for all ages. Although it's short, it's packed with true history, real outlaws, tourists, and the politics of the times. But more than that, it's a really fun, adventurous read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2013
A friend recommended the author and this book to me. I live in Florida very close to where the events
in the book occurred. The book was full of the true history of the region and the characters were
delightful. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good adventure, characters that are so
real that you feel you know them and history that is turned into a wonderful story. Thank you Ms.
Dawson for this wonderful book. I would recommend it for ages 13 to 64 (which I happen to be LOL).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 15, 2013
Follow along with three young and unlikely friends as a simple boat ride through the waters of an untamed Florida becomes not only a dangerous journey, but an adventure of epic proportions sure to ignite the imaginations of readers old or young! The River Way Home: The Adventures of the Cowboy, The Indian and the Amazon Queen by Mary E. Dawson is filled with historical value and a sense of wonder and discovery as Queenie, an educated young black girl, Chief, a young Seminole boy and Billy, a young cracker boy with an as yet untapped, yet brilliant mind, brave nature, the elements and some dangerous outlaws, as they try to make their way to the safety of home.

Mary E. Dawson has created a beautifully written novel brimming with true historical facts surrounding Central Florida in the days before man and the railroad tamed its vast lands, when word of mouth and tales of the past kept the spirit of the land alive. Her characters are warm, sweet and innocent, but showed amazing poise, loyalty and true grit when called upon. Ms. Dawson's world-building is like a mental trip through time, to the sights and smells of the `jungles' and wonders of Florida that is both captivating and memorable. For younger readers, she has cleverly disguised history lessons in a book that begs to be read! And I admit it I knew very little of what she so generously shared!

The River Way Home: The Adventures of the Cowboy, The Indian and the Amazon Queen is a trip through the real Florida, long before Disney came along! Should you read it and share it? Definitely!

I sincerely wish to thank the author for allowing me the opportunity to share in this fantastic journey!
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